Last month, the Rev. Chu Yiu-ming, 75, was in a Hong Kong courtroom to defend himself against the charge of being [a public nuisance, along with] additional subversive accusations.
Chu, a Baptist minister, leads Taiwan’s “Umbrella Movement.” It is a peaceful campaign to stop the growing authoritarian leadership of Taiwan’s government.
When police and military units turned tear gas and pepper spray on pro-democracy demonstrators in 2014, protestors hid behind umbrellas to shield themselves. Thus, the movement had a name, and in Yiu-ming, a moral champion.
Chu escaped mainland China and Chairman Mao’s atrocities as an orphaned child. Ultimately turning to faith and religious service, for decades he ministered in some of Hong Kong’s poorest neighborhoods; sheltered Tiananmen Square massacre survivors; and smuggled Chinese dissidents to safety.
When the Umbrella Movement erupted, Chu tried to sit it out. He was old, his health was fragile, and his friends and family reinforced the opinion that he had “done enough.” But as young students began protesting totalitarianism, he knew he had to protect them — and [like] Martin Luther King Jr. — try to keep the protest peaceful.
He said, “We strive for freedom, equality, and universal love. Our way is to peacefully expose injustice, making it impossible for evil to hide. We strive to inspire self-sacrificing love, not to incite anger and hatred.”
Found guilty, Chu preached a remarkable sermon from behind the smudged glass of a holding cell.
He said, “Today, old and gray, I find myself making a final plea as a convict. And yet, at this very moment, my heart tells me that I have found the most honorable pulpit of my ministerial career.
“I hope that consciences will wake up, and together we will work to save the day. And should I still manage to find some strength in my aging body, I shall continue to toll the bell in the church, in the world, and in each human heart, because ‘God has made clear what is good and what is desired: Do what is right, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.’
“So I, Chu Yiu-ming, now declare: We have no regrets. We hold no grudges, no anger, no grievances. But we do not give up. To the Lord I entrust my life.”
The courtroom erupted with applause and the unfurling of scores of umbrellas.
What will become of Yiu-ming, his partners in freedom, and the young Taiwanese?
Chu said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” That justice comes to those who do what is right — and who do not give up.
Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, blogger, pastor, and author of multiple books. Visit his website at www.ronniemcbrayer.org.